Distinct but Overlapping Patterns of Response to Words and Faces in the Fusiform Gyrus

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Abstract

Converging evidence suggests that the fusiform gyrus is involved in the processing of both faces and words. We used fMRI to investigate the extent to which the representation of words and faces in this region of the brain is based on a common neural representation. In Experiment 1, a univariate analysis revealed regions in the fusiform gyrus that were only selective for faces and other regions that were only selective for words. However, we also found regions that showed both word-selective and face-selective responses, particularly in the left hemisphere. We then used a multivariate analysis to measure the pattern of response to faces and words. Despite the overlap in regional responses, we found distinct patterns of response to both faces and words in the left and right fusiform gyrus. In Experiment 2, fMR adaptation was used to determine whether information about familiar faces and names is integrated in the fusiform gyrus. Distinct regions of the fusiform gyrus showed adaptation to either familiar faces or familiar names. However, there was no adaptation to sequences of faces and names with the same identity. Taken together, these results provide evidence for distinct, but overlapping, neural representations for words and faces in the fusiform gyrus.

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